What it's like to drive Mini's ALL4 Racing Dakar-winning car - Mini ALL4 Racing Dakar rally car - page 3

evo braves the deserts of Dubai to experience just a fraction of the heat and chaos of the Dakar rally

It’ll certainly oversteer – a trait demonstrated in more vivid detail when I sit shotgun with Dakar expert Nani Roma later in the day – but through the deep sand its attitude once again varies according to ruts. On fairly flat ground, you have several choices – a dab of the heavy brake pedal or flick of the wheel will send the car sideways, but more throttle and a quarter-turn of lock is needed in the soft sand to provoke a slide.

A few other aspects stand out for someone entirely new to this sort of vehicle. One is the constant punishment of the rough surface. Four-wheel drive vehicles are restricted to half the suspension travel of two-wheel drive buggies on the Dakar. Some bumps are enough to provoke involuntary ‘oof’ noises. Others send my helmeted head pinballing between the head restraints on the Recaro seat.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

The other is restricted movement. This will be familiar to anyone who has used a four- or five-point harness before, but it’s more of a problem when you’re sitting relatively low, behind a relatively high bonnet and plenty of ground clearance. Cresting some hills becomes an act of faith rather than judgement, with little chance to shuffle in your seat for a better view.

All too soon, we rejoin the gravel access road that led me to the start of the stage. It strikes me that my biggest concern – the heat – has gone unnoticed. It’s unlikely this would be the case on the full Dakar event, where temperatures can be greater even than the deserts of Dubai.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Add in the constant punishment and the length of each day, and fatigue also becomes a factor. As does altitude, when competitors traverse the Atacama desert in Chile. Al-Attiyah explains in graphic detail – over dinner – the nausea of altitude sickness he suffered when he failed to take the drugs used to combat it.

X-Raid’s ALL4 Racing vehicle is remarkably civil. In contrast, the conditions its drivers compete in couldn’t be further removed from civility.


Most Popular


Renault 5 GT Turbo – review, history, prices and specs

Not as wild and bonkers as the mid-engined Turbo, the Renault 5 GT Turbo was still a rather fine hot hatch
1 Apr 2020

BMW M5 F90 vs E28 M5, RS6, E500 and Lotus Carlton: supersaloons old vs new

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 and other classics taking on today's mo…
4 Apr 2020
Honda NSX

Honda NSX review - enough to take on its European rivals?

Honda’s supercar is immensely capable and startlingly fast, but it’s easier to respect than it is to love
6 Apr 2020
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019